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With $25K donation to Pence PAC, Lilly CEO Ricks defies some of company’s stated positions

While Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly has criticized moves by Indiana’s Republican lawmakers and leaders over the years, the company’s CEO is backing the presidential campaign of perhaps the state’s most prominent member of the GOP.

On June 22, Ricks offered up $25,000 to a Super PAC supporting former vice president Mike Pence’s run for the oval office, IndyStar first reported, citing information from a Federal Election Commission filing.

Lilly did not immediately respond to Fierce Pharma’s request for comment on the matter.

With 4.4% of the vote, Pence currently ranks fifth in Republican presidential polls behind Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and former biotech bigwig Vivek Ramaswamy.

Notably, Pence supports measures such as abortion bans and Indiana’s controversial 2015 Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, which Ricks’ company has publicly opposed.

Last summer, for instance, Eli Lilly railed against an aggressive clampdown on reproductive rights. Lilly made its position clear after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, with Indiana becoming to first state to approve abortion restrictions.

Lilly flagged concerns that the law would “hinder” its ability to “attract diverse scientific, engineering and business talent from around the world.

“While we have expanded our employee health plan to include travel for reproductive services unavailable locally, that may not be enough for some current and potential employees,” a spokesperson said.

Separately, the company in 2015 strongly criticized an Indiana state law that critics said would allow for discrimination against LGBTQ people.

“Simply put, we believe discriminatory legislation is bad for Indiana and for business,” a Lilly spokesperson told CNN at the time.

At the same time, as IndyStar notes, CEO political gifts are not always made on ideological grounds. Instead, CEOs often give to candidates that they believe will support their business’ ambitions.